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tv   The Media Show  BBC News  February 13, 2022 4:30pm-5:01pm GMT

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57“, measure it, they estimate about 57, —— five foot seven, five foot that is quite tall for that period, isn't it? ithink is quite tall for that period, isn't it? i think so, is quite tall for that period, isn't it? ithink so, i'm no is quite tall for that period, isn't it? i think so, i'm no expert, is quite tall for that period, isn't it? ithink so, i'm no expert, but i'm hoping the museum of london will be able to throw light on this. in be able to throw light on this. in the meantime, when you it? be able to throw light on this. in | the meantime, when you it? yes, be able to throw light on this. in i the meantime, when you it? yes, i was auoin the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to _ the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to say — the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to say is _ the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to say is a _ the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to say is a bone - the meantime, when you it? yes, i was going to say is a bone of - was going to say is a bone of contention in the house, that's terrible! it's wrapped up in bubble wrap in a bag in the house, but it will be leaving very soon. it’s wrap in a bag in the house, but it will be leaving very soon.- will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum _ will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum on _ will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum on the _ will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum on the shelf - will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum on the shelf at - will be leaving very soon. it's not a momentum on the shelf at the | a momentum on the shelf at the moment? ~ , ,., , a momentum on the shelf at the moment? ~ ,,., , ., a momentum on the shelf at the moment? ~ , , ., ., ., , moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, moment? absolutely not, and to be honest. it's — moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, it's kind _ moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, it's kind of— moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, it's kind of odd _ moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, it's kind of odd in _ moment? absolutely not, and to be honest, it's kind of odd in that - honest, it's kind of odd in that respect, because as well as being, 0k, it is a bone, it's very old, but it was a person, and there is a bit of respect about this, as well, because it was a human, they had a life, they had family, they were living not far from where i am now,
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in a very different world, obviously, at that time... a, in a very different world, obviously, at that time... a long time ago. _ obviously, at that time... a long time ago. but — obviously, at that time... a long time ago, but the _ obviously, at that time... a long time ago, but the respect - obviously, at that time... a long time ago, but the respect is - time ago, but the respect is necessary. nice to see you, i shall think of you very differently when i see around the building next time. thank you very much. hello, this is bbc news. the headlines... a russian invasion of ukraine is highly likely. that's the assessment of the defence secretary, ben wallace, comparing some western diplomatic efforts to the appeasement of nazi germany. the us evacuates most of its embassy staff in kyiv as it expects that a russian military incusion could come any day. 13 people are injured after a mezzanine floor collapses at a pub in east london. and people in switzerland vote in favour of tightening the country's tobacco laws by banning virtually all advertising of tobacco products anywhere young people might see it. now on bbc news, it's time for the media show.
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hello. some big topics on the media show today. in the west, it's reported as the ukraine crisis — 100,000 russian troops assembled near the border. president macron is on a whirlwind diplomatic mission this week to avert a conflict. but i want to look at how the situation is being reported in russia and in ukraine. is there the same sense of urgency in domestic media? how are both sides using the media to advance their own objectives? francis scarr is in moscow with bbc monitoring and he's going to help us do that. francis, on a lighter note first, you'll have seen those images of putin and macron sat at either end of it gigantic negotiating table this week. is this a table the kremlin rolls out for photo opportunities when they want to see the idea through the media that the west should sit at a distance from russia, or are all the tables like that? as you say, katie, plenty of political commentators have been saying that this was about political projection, about putin making macron feel uncomfortable
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while they were talking. but, actually, in the last couple of weeks, he's also held talks with the president of iran and the prime minister of hungary, both of whose countries arguably enjoy better relations with russia than france does. was he still using that table? yeah, at the very same table. in fact, lots of other people are saying this is more about putin's weariness over coronavirus. just to give you another example, back in december, he held his marathon annual press conference, and anyjournalist who wanted to attend the event had to pass three pcr tests and, once they got to the venue, they had to go through a kind of disinfection tunnel which sprayed them with sanitiser. and when they eventually got into the hall they were a good 20 metres away from the russian president anyway. 0k, more from you, francis, in a moment. we'll bear that in mind. but going on, what's going on near the ukrainian border is also the subject of much analysis by open—source investigators. these are the online sleuths, often amateur, who are trauling
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through social media posts and satellite imagery to track the military hardware that's on the move in the region. such investigative techniques have now been co—opted by mainstream news outlets. and we're going to hear about the huge impact some of them have achieved in the last few months. we've got some of the best in the business with us, including alison killing, who won a pulitzer prize for her work last year. alison used satellite imagery to identify how the chinese government was building a massive infrastructure to detain muslims. alison, i mentioned how open—source investigators are often amateur — they're certainly not all trained journalists. and your dayjob is in fact as an architect. and here you are winning a pulitzer. yeah, i mean, i'm trained as an architect, and i worked in commercial practice for a number of years but, in fact, my work has been moving away from construction and building for quite some time. i would say for the past four or five years, in fact. so this sort of work is now in fact my dayjob. fantastic, and we'll hear much more about that later. but let's start with francis scarr,
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one of the guys at bbc monitoring in moscow. francis, i referred to the situation as the ukraine crisis — that's because that's how it's headlined in the western media. is this the kind of language the russian media is using? well, if we take state tv, for example, which is the most popular source of information for russians — around two thirds of people here watch it on a regular basis. the picture as you can imagine is completely different. any accusations of an imminent russian invasion are being roundly dismissed as anti—russian hysteria, or simply complete nonsense. and these deliveries of apparently defensive weapons by the us and uk to ukraine are being described as actually whipping up tensions in the region. and actually they're saying that the west are simply pumping the ukraine full of weapons and preparing it to attack the rebels in the east — the donetsk and lugansk republics. and what about the ukrainian media? sarah rainsford, our colleague, the bbc correspondent,
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said that east of kyiv many ukrainians that she met there said they hadn't watched the news since 2014 to protect their nerves. well, ukrainian media are largely behind the government there. they're obviously saying ukraine is the victim and russia is the aggressor. the rebel republics in the east are terrorist organisations, according to them. but, of course, they're really having to play thisjuggling game between statements from the west — western governments are saying that russia is imminently about to invade — and the ukrainian government, which is saying "hang on, calm down, guys, things aren't quite as drastic as that quite yet." regarding people's anxiety in the ukraine, i was speaking to a colleague in our kyiv team the other day and she was saying that there are definitely a lot of people who have kind of resigned themselves to the fact there may be a russian invasion. they can't do anything about it if it happens so in the meantime they may as well save their mental health by avoiding all the anxiety of watching the news.
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right. so clearly the way it's being reported in the region is very different depending on where you are. but what about this from andrey pertsev, the journalists at meduza, a news website that's based in latvia so as to bypass russian censorship. he says that some western reporting in the ukraine is basically akin to alarmist click bait. he cites a report in bild, in germany, last weekend that claimed to have putin's plan for the full scale invasion that would involve internment camps for ukrainians, and he calls out foreign entertainment which he says leads ordinary russians to trust the west even less. what do you think about that? well, i think it's definitely a problem that many russians, especially young people here — they hold the west in high regard. and they want a future for their own country where the media is as free as it is in the west. and they're looking at some of these really speculative reports about what putin might be planning in ukraine. and lots of reputable outlets publishing reports citing anonymous intelligence sources in the us and the uk, which the journalists aren't verifying.
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and they're asking, "well, how can we trust this any more then we're trusting what our own government's telling us?" and just going back to that giant negotiating table, you spotted that putin was using the informal when addressing macron. which some see as being his way of signalling to russian viewers that they're friends and that russia isn't some sort of pariah. how do you read it? well, in russian, there are two ways of addressing someone. te, which is less formal, and ve, which is more formal. and some of the listeners might remember our correspondent here, steve rosenberg, was on a while ago, talking about his interview with alexander lukashenko, the leader of belarus, who used the less formal address for steve. and steve took this as almost belittlement, an attempt to insult him. i think what putin was doing with macron was slightly different here. he was trying to say that "i am part of the club of important nations, i'm on the high table of global politics," and this of course is a really big statement
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from putinbecause russia has been kicked out of organisations like the g8, which is now the g7. and he wants to show that russia is there in the club ultimately. let me bring in benjamin strick. because i said i wanted to look at the role open—source investigators are playing in our understanding of the situation and, ben, you're the investigations director at the centre for investigation resistance, which is a not for profit dedicated to exposing disinformation operations by governments. so you're an expert in sifting through satellite imagery, social media, anything digital that's out there — hence the term open—source. what are your team finding in respect of russia and ukraine? our team, we're not really establishing any findings. what we're really trying to do is identify what's really happening on the ground. because while we are identifying narratives that are coming up, we're not necessarily working to counter our battle against those narratives but ratherjust pick out and tease out the details of what's
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happening on the ground. as you said, there's so much information that's doing that — from locals filming vehicles driving past to aerial traffic to satellite imagery as well. and it's the combination of all those sorts of things that, when cross—referenced with the narratives that are coming out in state media and different organisations and representatives, that there is a difference in occurrence of perhaps less intimidation of military build—ups in comparison to what we're really seeing, which is quite heavy intimidation of these build—ups as well. before we came on air, i went down a rabbit hole on twitter, looking at your stuff, what you're putting out, and other open—source investigators who are tracking, as you say, those military convoys — they're geo—locating these videos by identifying road signs, bends in the road, and we'll come on to some of those techniques in a moment, but ijust wonder, how do you know that what's being posted hasn't been put up there deliberately to fool the likes of you? that's right, that's the dangerous game of this. i think the best thing to say
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is that, as alison may have mentioned before, none of us are really qualified in this field. we enter this field without a specific degree or a specific registration. but that's the best thing about it, is that when i put something out under my name, most people won't believe it. but because i'm transparent and because most of us are transparent, they can dig through and see where ourfindings are. that's the best thing about a lot of this that we're seeing online. yes, someone might post a video and they might post a location, but cross—referencing and identifying that information with trees, signs — a mcdonald's sign in the background for instance — might actually reveal that that information is true. and that's how we're able to use those tangible facts to cross—reference and prove what's actually there on the ground. and that's how we prove that link and that proof in the pudding there. and, francis, a us congresswoman by the name of elissa slotkin was lampooned by some last week when she advised ukrainians, if russia does invade, she said, "flood the internet with pictures and videos, with all the
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embarrassing content you can get — for the russian people to see that their leader is a fraud and a thug." does putin fear embarrassing posts on social media? well, on the one hand, the kremlin does keep its fingerfirmly on the pulse of public opinion. and even commissions polls to see how people are viewing sensitive issues. but i personally think she's kind of misread russian society here because, for the last few years, especially on state tv, people have been fed this cocktail of conspiracy theories and sometimes even just outright lies every time russia is accused of doing something maligned by the west. and i personally think it would take something much greater — we're talking about the photos and videos of thousands and thousands of body bags coming back from ukraine — to really cause a shift in russian public opinion. francis carr in moscow, thank you very much. i promised at the start of the programme that we'd look at how the digital sleuthing that ben is an expert in has now
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been adopted by a lot of mainstream news outlets. so let me introduce you to the rest of my panel. alexa koenig is the executive director of the human rights centre at the berkeley school of law. alison killing is the winner of the 2021 a pulitzer prize in international reporting. haley willis is visual investigations reporter at the new york times. and, haley, if i can start with you. welcome to the media show. you've been investigating civilian casualties in us air and drone strikes. of course, alljournalists are looking to get impact with their reporting but this is pretty impressive. two weeks ago, the us defence secretary issued an order to military top brass that can be summarised effectively as do more to not kill the innocent. he said the protection of civilians remains vital to the ultimate success of our operations. that was lloyd austin. explain your newspaper's role in exposing what the us military was getting tragically wrong and this change in policy. yeah, absolutely. this announcement by
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secretary austin came after a series of investigations released over the past few months. really spearheaded by the reporting of azmat khan, who's been covering this issue for many, many years, as well as several other reporters at the times, including our team in visual investigations. we've done a lot of looking into how air strikes have been botched in specific contexts, looking at these shadowy task forces that are calling these strikes. as well as looking into actually how the us military reviews claims of civilian casualties. so azmat was able to get a huge trove of documents which are basically the military�*s internal assessments of these claims. and a big part of that was looking into what they were getting wrong. so what their intelligence was getting wrong and then how they were failing to truly investigate wrongdoing. and the visual investigations team has played a role in that in terms of looking at this process and errors in it, especially basic errors that are very similar
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to the type of work that open—source investigators do, as well as individually investigating some of these botched strikes, including one in kabul last summer. yes, let's pick up on that one. a lot of us will remember it. it was just as kabul fell to the taliban back in august. the us claimed they'd taken out an islamic state mastermind in retaliation for a suicide attack on the airport a few days before. in actual fact, they'd targeted an aid worker driving home from work and they'd killed a total of ten civilians. tell us, how were you able to prove this really quite soon after the incident? what sort of techniques did you use and what material were you using? this happened i distinctly remember on a sunday, and we were monitoring accounts on social media and we started seeing videos come out of what looked like the aftermath of something. smoke rising from a residential home, people pouring water over a courtyard, and these videos were coming out at the same time that
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reports were coming out that the us had carried out a drone strike in kabul. so our team immediately set to work — the first thing we did was try to geo—locate, which is something that you and ben have both spoken about already. so where did this happen? there were very few details at the time but there were some details that the us had released about how far from the airport they had struck. and so the first thing we did was we tried to locate where it happened. immediately as we did we released that information publicly on twitter. that's a huge part of what we do — we want our methodology to be publicly available. and that allowed reporters on the ground to access the site and to do investigations as quickly as possible. in the weeks following, several of my colleagues continued to dig into the deeper details of this. who was targeted, why, and really uncovered that almost everything that the military said had happened that day was false. they analysed videos and photos of the actual site along with weapons experts and found no evidence of what the military had said was a secondary explosion from explosives that were in the vehicle.
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they were able to get security camera footage that showed the movements of ahmadi, who was targeted leading up to when the strike happened. it basically showed no evidence of nefarious activity and actually showed that something as simple as him carrying waterjugs may have been perceived by the us military as him carrying explosives. there's no evidence that he was connected to the islamic state. what the us once said was an islamic state safe house, my colleagues were able to prove was actually the home of his boss at the ngo. very quickly after this reporting came out, the us military really had to backtrack on a lot of the explanations they made for carrying out the strike. amazing insight into the power ofjournalism, but also the power of this open—source investigation. before i bring in alexa from the human rights centre, ijust want to hear a bit more about these techniques because they are i hope our audience will find absolutely riveting. alison killing, tell us how
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you used your training as an architect to work out from satellite photos that the chinese government were building camps in xinjiang province. as we know, they claim they're a necessary measure against terrorism. sure. i worked with a buzzfeed reporter, megha rajagopalan, and developer christo buschek on this. when we started working in 2018, it was believed that there were 1,200 camps in existence but only a handful of those had been found. and so we were keen to find the rest. but it's very, very difficult to work in xinjiang. some of that is because it's a very large region, but actually what's more important is that access is very difficult. manyjournals in china have now been denied visas, it's very difficult to go to xinjiang and people have been followed, detained and their sources intimidated. it's very difficult to work there effectively. so we turned to satellite imagery. we spent a little while researching potential techniques
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forfinding the camps, and we discovered that, in the chinese version of google maps, there was censorship, that when you navigated to a place where we knew that there was a camp and zoomed in that, suddenly, this light grey square would appear over the location. you'd zoom in again and it would be gone immediately. it looked a little bit like the map was broken but we quickly realised that it wasn't, that we could reproduce this. also that it was happening in all of the locations where we knew camps to be. so we started to map that censorship and could go and look at those same locations in uncensored imagery such as in google earth and see what was there. and that allowed us to identify what we believe is very close to be to full network of camps across xinjiang. we used a lot of satellite imagery for that. so that was identifying key features of camps — whether that was very thick
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perimeter walls, like two metres thick, guard towers at the corners of those, whether it was barbed wire in courtyards, and those things helped us to determine whether a place was likely to be a camp or not. we corroborated that using eyewitness reports, we spoke to dozens of former detainees, several whom were able to point us directly to where they were being held or government tender documents, media reports. and you won the pulitzer prize for this? yeah, we won the pulitzer prize for international reporting for this work. that's amazing. i want to hear more about your work in a moment. i want to hear about your work at the moment because you're not only concentrating on ukraine and russia, you're also doing a lot of analysis of myanmar. tell us a bit about that. we ran a project at the centre
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for information resilience - called myanmar witness, - which is essentially to collect, preserve and investigate social media evidence of potential. interferences with human rights abuses around - this ethnic violence, you could call it, - against the rohingya population. we're getting to a point - where within 24 hours we're able l to identify when a village has been i destroyed and document that not only on satellite imageryl but from the ground, in a judicial aspect, - forjustice and accountability purposes, is really good. what steps do you take to protect people who might�*ve given you information, whether that's video or whatever you get from them? that's a really good - question because we often like to work with media, we get asked a lot - to work with media. at the same time, some - of the information that we do collect, even if it is from social. media, we take that onus to not share that with them because it's i amplifying further that materiall
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that might put them in danger, | but it's also that analysis on top of it about geolocation. that can be quite dangerous to a villager who has filmed | a fire in another village, _ and that might actually track them back to where they are living. with things like that, we're - actually keeping that quite private and sending that to the justice. and accountability mechanisms. and where it's safe to do so, we'll share information - with the media so that they can report on that and give that - advocacy as well as accountability aspect for both angles. _ alexa, you now teach a lot of these skills. in fact, i think haley is one of yourformer pupils. is itjustjournalists that want to learn them? not at all. actually, the way that we began working in the spaces in 2011, when we were looking at the upcoming tenure anniversary of the international criminal court, one of the things we were observing as researches was that
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many of their cases were falling apart at relatively early stages of prosecution. and the question we began asking was why. according to the judges and the thousands of pages of documents we went through, thejudges were critical of the prosecutors for not bringing in information that would corroborate what survivors would say was happening in their communities. so we began doing an assessment of what forms of information are out there that can come in and strengthen these narratives? so we began working with geospatial analysts, people working in analytics. of course, that was a time when you were seeing a rise of social media and smartphones around the globe. the cost of satellite imagery and the access of it, the cost dropping and access increasing for laypeople. we began pulling that together and thinking about how we can really better meet the gold standard of any international criminal prosecution, which is ultimately to triangulate your physical evidence, say the murder weapon, soil samples, with the information people are giving you orally
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about what's been happening with the documentary evidence, and really these photos and videos are rich sources of data. do you think the inability to work as a journalist in many parts of the world is why open—source techniques have taken off in the last ten years? journalists can't just wander around china or wander around myanmar. i think this work is at its strongest when it's multidisciplinary, people that are coming at this from different angles, whether you're a reporter, investigator, scientist, geospatial analyst, etc. we ultimately put together something called the berkeley protocol on digital open source investigations to help standardise some of the terminology and understandings of how you do it. what ben was talking about was really verifying this data, given the ephemerality of it, given how it can be easily manipulated or miscontextualized. i think, with covid in particular, there was a recognition that it was even harder to get on the ground, notjust the security
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considerations we've always seen, but certainly our shelter in place order. there are still crises going on and they are being exacerbated globally. so, really, there was a shoring up and realising that this went from a nice to have to a need to have for a lot of big institutions. alison, one of the striking points about the whole approach is the extent thatjournalists are relying on tech platforms. we talked on this programme many times about the fraught relationship between silicon valley and news publishers in general. but this is a whole new level of antagonism. if you are an open—source investigator, you could find all your source material just taken away, facebook or twitter or whoever decides to moderate the evidence or they are hit with a court order to delete material by an overseas government. is that a real concern? i mean, as an open source investigator, you absolutely rely on having access to data and large amounts of it. the data that i work with comes from two sources — it's social media or satellite imagery _
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access to both of those things can absolutely be a concern. we saw in the case of the war in syria that a lot of people were documenting what was happening around them, posting it to youtube, and then youtube would be taking that down. yet it was providing potential evidence of war crimes. and so there were efforts such as the syrian archive to quickly document all of those videos and preserve them in an archive so that they could be there for future research. similarly, satellite imagery is slightly different. and certainly we've been very lucky with our access to satellite imagery, that we have a lot available in free tools such as google earth pro at high resolution. we were lucky enough to have images
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every month or every few months so that we could really see what was happening. but the cost of satellite imagery can absolutely be a barrier where that public data doesn't already exist. alexa, you're the executive director of the human rights centre, berkeley school of law, which is a giveaway that you talked about in terms of bringing people to justice. is having a global news outlet using your techniques more effective than an ngo? the power of journalism, in other words? i actually think they're very complementary. l almost as if they are links in a chain. - if you look at what these - investigative reporters are doing, they're both consumers of digital open source information. - but they're also putting a lot - of closed source information out | into public spaces where it can then| become leads for legal investigators to know who they should be talking | to to get the testimonial evidence, j what physical evidence may actually exist. - for example, if they got over - a whatsapp communication a video or a photograph of wherel
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an attack has taken place. ultimately, i think— what we are seeing evolve over the last five to ten years is morel coordination and communication. i'm sorry, i'm going to have to interrupt. we've run out of time. thank you to all my guests, alexa koenig from the human rights center, haley willis from the new york times, benjamin strick from the centre for information resilience, pulitzer prize—winning alison killing, and francis scarr from bbc monitoring. that is all we have time for. thank you so much for watching. goodbye. hello. a thoroughly wet day out there as forecast for most parts of the country and, as far as the week ahead is concerned, more rain on the way and some very strong winds, as well, particularly from mid week onwards. now, the low pressure that's bringing us the bad weather right
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now is slowly moving out into the north sea. however, it is still going to rain across the south and the south—east through the night. also showers across parts of wales, but many of us in the north will have clear spells overnight, and here temperatures will dip to around 3 or 4 degrees in bigger towns, perhaps a touch of frost in the glens, and then tomorrow a northerly wind, so it will be pretty cold, perhaps some wintriness across the scottish hills, and it really will feel quite nippy along the north sea coast, too. the best of the weather will be further west and also towards the south. temperatures probably peaking at around 7 or 8 degrees celsius for the most part, and then that really nasty weather arrives later on in the week.
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this is bbc news. these are the latest headlines in the uk and around the world. more than a dozen countries have urged their citizens to leave ukraineoverfears of an imminent russian invasion. president biden will speak to his ukrainian counterpart today as efforts to de—escalate tensions continue. meanwhile, ukraine's ambassador in london says talk of invasion is harming his country. that's a panic, to people being withdrawn, demonic living, this assumption is halting nutrient might be the whole idea of putin. 13 people are injured after a mezzanine floor collapses at a pub in east london. police have cleared the remaining protesters blocking a key bridge between canada and the united states, after a week of disruption. people in switzerland have voted in favour of tightening the country's tobacco laws
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by banning virtually all advertising of tobacco products.

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